If you were going to write a movie script about Game 1 of the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Finals, it would probably start off with the visiting team jumping out to an early lead, possibly even a two-goal advantage. The crowd would be taken out of the game because of the deficit. The home team would eventually score to make it close, but then the visiting team would regain the two-goal advantage. The crowd would once again be silent.
It’s probably somewhere in the third period that you would want to write in the script that the home team scores because the visiting team turned the puck over in their own zone. This would start to bring the crowd back to life. What comes next is tricky for a movie writer. Do you let the home team score earlier and make the goalies play unbelievable down the stretch to keep the game tied? Perhaps, the game-tying goal wouldn’t come until later in the period, possibly even in the closing seconds. The first choice is the one chosen as the third goal will be scored with just less than eight minutes to go in the game.
As the goal is scored, the crowd erupts, bringing excitement and energy throughout the building. The goalies for both teams will play amazing down the stretch — blocking one-timers, break-away attempts, rebounds and slap shots. All of them kicked aside as both goalies match save for save. Finally, the third period ends and the game will go into overtime. Of course, seeing how it’s the Finals, why not make the game keep going. Since it’s not over until one team scores, let’s make it go through several overtime periods. The crowd will “ooh” and “awe” with every shot and every save. There will be collective gasps as well as sighs of relief. Then, finally, just when you least expect it, the game-winning goal will be scored by the home team. However, it will not be just any goal. This goal will be the result of a shot from the blue line that will be deflected in front of the net by a teammate, and then the puck will ricochet off of a defenders skate. That’s how the home team will overcome a two-goal deficit to win Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
If presented with this story in a movie format, most hockey fans would say “only Hollywood could come up with something that crazy.” Looking back on Game 1 and seeing all the scenarios given, it still seems impossible. The Chicago Blackhawks, playing at home, were in a 2-0 hole and then a 3-1 hole against Tuukka Rask, the hottest goalie on the planet. The Boston Bruins goalie had only allowed 1.70 goals against coming into the Finals, and he had only allowed two goals in the four-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Blackhawks, the best team in the NHL all season, had proven they could come back, but most people watching the game didn’t think it would happen against the Bruins in Game 1.
Not only did it happen, but it happened in Hollywood-like fashion. Not only did Chicago come back and win Game 1, but they did it triple overtime. Right as the clock was hitting midnight in Chicago, Andrew Shaw scored the game winner for the Blackhawks. Obviously, Chicago’s bench erupted with jubilation, while the Boston players were trying to figure out what just happened. Primed and poised to steal Game 1 on Chicago’s home ice, the Bruins walked away empty handed.
The fifth longest game in Stanley Cup Finals history will go down as an instant classic. It was a night in which both goaltenders played remarkable. Corey Crawford matched Rask save for save, and you hated to see the game end. I think I speak for hockey fans around the world when I say, “Can we please get a sequel to this presentation, please?” I think most hockey fans would agree that sooner would be better than later. Either way, if the rest of the series is half as good as Game 1, buckle up because the hockey world is in for a crazy ride.